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Massachusetts
court won't force legislators to vote on same-sex marriage

Massachusetts
court won't force legislators to vote on same-sex marriage

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Massachusetts's highest court on Wednesday said it had no authority to force lawmakers to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

Massachusetts's highest court on Wednesday said it had no authority to force lawmakers to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Opponents of same-sex marriage, angry that lawmakers failed to act on the proposed amendment in November, had sued, asking the court to clarify whether the state's constitution required lawmakers to vote. In its ruling the supreme judicial court wrote, "Beyond resorting to aspirational language that relies on the presumptive good faith of elected representatives, there is no presently articulated judicial remedy for the legislature's indifference to, or defiance of, its constitutional duties." The same court had ruled in 2003 that the state constitution guaranteed gays the right to marry. Opponents of same-sex marriage had collected 170,000 signatures to place an amendment on the 2008 ballot that would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, but their effort still needed the support of a quarter of the legislature. Lawmakers in November voted to recess rather than vote on the question. Same-sex marriage opponents, including Gov. Mitt Romney, filed suit, arguing that the people's will was being thwarted and that lawmakers were violating their right to petition for a constitutional amendment. The court said that drafters of the state provision that allows for citizen petitions "did not intend a simple majority of the joint session to have the power effectively to block progress of an initiative." A spokesman for Romney, who was on vacation, had no immediate comment Wednesday. More than 8,000 gay couples have been married since 2004 in Massachusetts, the only state to allow same-sex marriage. Other states offer similar rights but not the title of marriage to gay couples: New Jersey joins Connecticut and Vermont in February in offering civil unions, and California has domestic partnerships. (Jay Lindsay, AP)

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